A last-minute deluge of postal votes allegedly sparked concerns about ballot rigging at Milton Keynes Council.
Instead of the anticipated four or five ballot boxes, 18 brimming boxes containing more than 4,600 votes turned up at the council offices yesterday.
Today election organisers insisted nothing seemed amiss – and blamed postal delays caused by the bank holiday.
They are, however, awaiting with interest to see how many more posted votes arrive before the 10pm deadline today, say sources.
The Wednesday deluge was so unexpected that an email was sent to council staff asking for help in counting the votes. Many volunteers worked well into the night.
A source said: “There was certainly concern and suspicion at one stage. This was more than four times the expected number of papers arriving in one day, and it did not fit in with previous trends.”
Other sources claim helpers were told to check all papers meticulously by hand to check they were genuine.
Other signs of postal vote fraud could include larger than expected numbers of papers returned from one ward or constituency.
Votes have been trickling in steadily from postal applicants over the past couple of weeks and they are counted daily, with all staff and helpers sworn to secrecy about the results.
Around 29,000 city residents applied this year to vote by post.
A spokesman for the council said this morning: “It is possible the bank holiday weekend may have delayed post coming back to us.
“All postal votes are checked for signatures and dates of birth as well as other information that can verify them. This is done by machine and also by hand.”